Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dvija - Rescuing Varna from Jaati

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Thoughts continued from these previous posts.

My Priya Bandhujan,

Upanishad Ganga has begun churning minds. Here is a snapshot of this ongoing manthana in my mind after watching the episode of Chanakya and Varna-Vyavastha. More than the episode itself, this bharatvaakya of the episode had a lasting impact.

जन्मना जायते शूद्रः. संस्कारात् द्विजं उच्यते |
वेद-पाठात् भवेत् विप्रः ब्रह्म जानाति ब्राह्मणः| स्कंदपुराण ६.२३९.३१

Everyone is Shudra by birth. With Sanskaras (the system of 16 sanskaras in dharma) makes a person "Dvija". Mastering Vedas (knowledge) makes one "Vipra". One becomes a "Brahmana" as he attains "Brahma-Jnana".

applying modern context - 

Everyone is Shudra by birth. After enrolling in school (Upanayana sanskara) and graduation (Samaavartana) one becomes Dvija (twice born). After becoming a "master" of a particular stream of knowledge, one becomes a "Vipra". And after attaining "Brahma-Jnaana" one becomes Brahmana.

If one looks at most of the Smriti verses dealing with "dharmaarthik" theories pertaining to Purushaartha-trayi (Dharma-artha-kaama i.e. politics and economy, jurisprudence, personal lifestyle), the most frequent term used is "Dvija". 

Dvija is one who has initiated his formal education in an institution which is recognized by sociopolity of given space and time. Initiation of education is marked by Upanayana Sanskaara (admission to primary school in modern context) and Samaavartana sanskaara (graduation - HSC OR Bachelor's degree). All scriptures are unanimous at giving these two sanskaras to three varnas. In modern context, we have amended it to include all 4 Varnas (a welcome decision). 

In days of current dharma-shaastra (constitution of India and Hindu civil code suite), all those who have completed formal education up to at the least HSC and at the most Bachelor's level is a "Dvija". 

As far as Brahmanas are concerned, well, that is subjective. But all know such Brahmanas in and around our lives and times. That is "Adhyatmika" aspect and falls outside the scope of my capability and experience. Hence I respectfully tiptoe and desist speaking about it, until I have credible "Pratyaksha Pramaana".

Those who choose to specialize and become authorities in a particular field of knowledge (PhD, Post-Doctoral researcher, associate/assistant/ full professor, having published the fruits of his/her deliberations in a peer-reviewed platform) can be called as a "Vipra" (vip + ra - vaguely translated as praiseworthy brightness). In all these, categories, a person is expected to live on donations by parents, society, King and Vaishyas. And even in modern times, these guys do live off the donations (we call is grants). Ironically, the fact that most of our "vipras" now a days are busy applying for grants here and there, instead of spreading their luminescence (research), shows that this system too has begun its decline and will shed and evolve into something else shortly. 

In none of the above categories, does (rather SHOULD) one really care about "Jaati". One beautiful sentence from TV series Upanishad ganga - 

जो सत्य कह सके, सत्य सून सके, सत्य धारण कर सके, श्रेष्ठ ज्ञान का अधिकारी वही होता है   One who can speak truth, listen to truth, bear the truth, only he can attained greater knowledge.

This actually gives us platform to serially dismantle this distorted system. Jaati-System is here to stay. One has to dissociate the word "brahmana" from various jaatis like "Muhiyal", "Bhumihar", "Chitpavan", "Deshastha", "Vaidiki", "Niyogi", "Iyer", "Aiyangar", "Namboothiri" so on and so forth. All these are merely "jaatis" and should have no right to place the word "Brahmana" after them, unless they really follow the "dharma of brahmana varna". Of course, thanks to Britishers  the words Brahmana and Kshatriya are perhaps tainted permanently, we may need to find a new word which imply the meaning depicted in the opening Shloka of this post.

Varnashrama functions on ratio of Varnas in society. With onslaught of Saif-ud-Deen (sword of faith), this ratio was disturbed. The specialized Kshatriya classes of India either fell fighting OR migrated after defeat OR converted to newer faith OR retained their way of life by compromising on their Dharma and living to see next day. Same applies for other specialized classes, one of which is Brahmana Varna.

Looking logically, none of these responses are illogical and condemnable. All of us have had ancestors who compromised on Dharma and lived on (hence we exist) and some other ancestors who chose one of the other three options. 

The word "compromise" elicits a strong emotion, so does the word "selfish". But are these really "bad" words? What would one call of a "Jaati-dhaari Brahmin" (not varna), who took decisions which resulted in great troubles for some people of lower castes in his vicinity, but also preserved a rare manuscript(s) at the cost of his life, his property and even his honor from predatory hands of invader? What about those Veda-shaalas who kept the oral tradition of vedas alive, by gulping up the resources from local vaishya OR king instead of helping farmers in famine, probably by threatening him of religious excommunication and at times blackmailing the traders OR at times even legitimizing the deeds of a "Muslim ruler" committed against his fellow Hindu bretheren?

There are many such complex points in history where choices of individuals arose out of the "cost-benefit ratio" calculations being played out in his mind and he taking the decision based on his understanding of this equation and grasp over situation. In fact, this entire domain of history wherein the flame of Dharma was kept burning (at least the memory and resources required to resurrect it when time is ripe) at "ALL COSTS" is full of such instances. Hence it makes it difficult to categorize them as "good" or "bad".

Dharma sustained due to these so called compromisers. Dharma also sustained due to so called "Aakramana-Kaari". There is space-time for "compromise" and there is space-time for "Aakramana". Those who keep on compromising (or advocate doing so) in space and time of "Aakramana" are real Dhimmis. Those who advocate Aakramana in space and time of "compromising" are real "Martyrs". And both "Dhimmis" and "Martyrs" are necessary as "examples" so that the message of Dharma is delivered and wheel of Dharma starts rotating (Dharma Chakra Pravartana).

The moral of the story is, we need to dismantle this distorted understanding of varna and "brahmin" and need to rebuild the cadre by drawing and training individuals from wide spectrum of Jaatis. May be a new word, but the connection between Jaati and Brahmin should and will severe.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Purva-Paksha analysis of Islam using Tarkashastra of Saankhya-Yoga

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I have previously written three essays on similar topic. I would request gentle readers to go through them before you read on this essay.

Offering my Pranaama to Mahakaala, I now begin this essay. In essay no. 2 cited above, I arrived at a conclusion quoted below.

The power-structure in Islam is inherently linked with the nature and Chitta-Vritti of Prophet Muhammad himself. Belief in Allah is not enough to ensure the place in heaven. One has to depend upon Muhammad's favours and his influence on god to go to heaven. Thus, Muhammad made himself more powerful than Allah. Thus, in Islam for all practical purposes, Muhammad, the Rasool, is supremely powerful figure. This is as perfect and complete as it can get. Muhammad will only talk to Allah about you if you were a true Muslim. 

But who determines who the true-Muslim is and who is not, herein lies the real crux of the issue. A Qazi or a Mullah controls the social matters and ascertains the "report-card" of spiritual progress of ordinary Abdul. And sad part is ordinary Abdul in India can't even think of rebelling because if he does, he will be branded as "enemy of Islam" by power-establishment and will bring "Islam in danger".

Islam, when initiated, introduced sort of standardization of ideas in otherwise free-thinking and dispersed Arabs. Standardization perhaps helped in efficient survival where resources are scarce and cost of living in terms of energy is high. Civilizations like India where resources are abundant and cost of living in terms of energy is ridiculously low, are better off being free-thinking and non-standardized. Violent suppression of critical faculties lead to conflict between free-thinkers (Indic people) and standardised products (Muslims in general and those from Deobandi and Wahabi schools in particular).

Re-reading above analysis it seems that the Wahabi/Deobandi groups are like regression in the progression of Islam. Study of history from this perspective, seems to give out a signal of future decay/demise when fundamentalists/conservatives take over as it halts the progress or linear march of a movement. But is this movement of Wahabandi (Wahabi+Deobandi) groups to the center-stage really a regression?

My attempt at Purva-Paksha of Islam from Point of view of Saankhya-Yoga epistemology. 

I have numbered the "Purva-Paksha Sutras" and "Teeka (commentary)" follows. For those who are not aware of Indian Tarka-Shaastra OR dialectics, please follow this wiki link.

1. Any meme which wishes to survive beyond era of its inception has to have an infallible core.

2. Muslims are caught between "drive to live/evolve/excel" and "drive to be righteous (according to book)".

In Dharmik system, these two drives are not at loggerheads with each other. In fact, in Dharmik systems, we have separate "shastras" to deal with both these drives. (Artha and Dharma respectively. I am not even bothering to use the word Moksha and Adhyatma for Islam). The inherent "separateness" of these two Purusharthas (They are linked and move in parallel, not completely severed like in Secularism) makes it difficult for a dharmik to comprehend the nature and magnitude of churning which goes on in Muslim mind. Unlike Dharma, Deen and Daulat cannot be separated in Islam (as in all abrahmic faiths). 

3. In Islam, their "infallible" (Qur'an and hadith) is almost a universal set. Shruti, which is Indic infallible core, is not.

Furthermore, Shruti is a work of thousands of seers, criticized and peer-reviewed by thousands of other seers, all this process being extended over thousands of years of continuous composition, has enough material which can very effortlessly sustain and hold together vastly contradictory ideas and memes. There is plenty of "digestion time" spent in the process. Something which did not happen and is impossible to happen in one man's life-time (no matter how talented he is). Even if we see Islam as continuity of Judaic tradition extending over millennium and half prior to birth of Muhammad, it still does not pass the crucial criteria of "rigorous peer review" by multiple composers. This peer-review is missing in Judaic tradition.

4. In Saankhya-Yoga, there are at the least three acceptable "Pramaanas" - Pratyaksha (direct experience/observation), Anumaana (logical inference/interpretation from observed data) and Shabda (word in literature). 

While examining Shruti, a Dhaarmik is expected to give importance to Pratyaksha Pramaana, but here "pratyaksha", means direct experience. Then comes Anumaana and then one has to test what Shruti (Shabda) has to say about a question.

There are no tools OR permissions to "examine" Deen, per se. But if one wishes to do so, one is supposed to give primary importance to Shabda (words written in good book). Second is Anumaana (various Firqas and sects and their interpretation of the infallible core) and last is Pratyaksha (the qalandars, sufis, who are detested by all good muslims who believe in supremacy of "Shabda-Praamanya" (word in Qur'an)).  

So, when this conflict between drive to live and drive to be righteous arises, a Muslim who has understood the "essence" of dharma simply deletes (in his mind) those parts of "Deen" which comes in way of his "drive to live/evolve/excel". This is what we call as "Swadharma" in Sanskrit - the drive which made us utter "Tamaso Maa Jyotir gamaya"

For most muslims, Deen being infallible is beyond question - they follow orders/interpretations of Mullah in matters of religion. Those who do question these interpretations, are caught in dilemma - Whether to give primary importance to Pratyaksha pramaana and have courage to delete those ideas in Deen which do not conform with one's "Anubhava" OR to give primary importance to "Shabda praamanya" as Mullah and Deen recommends.

5. Dharmik individuals give importance to Pratyaksha Pramana and then Anumaana while testing the efficacy of Shabda.

Rest who cannot muster courage to test Deen with their experience and rely on Shabda (for which they have to depend upon a mullah who understands Arabic) have to undergo one further test. The qualitative difference in "shabda" (the infallible core) as discussed in commentary of sutra 3, is to be applied here. When testing efficacy of Shabda alone, Dharmikness of individual depends upon dharmikness of Shabda under consideration. Shruti is inherently "Dharmik" in character due to its limited scope and robustness in accommodating multiplicity of opinions in that narrow scope of human experience. Deen, on the other hand, is monopolistic with universal scope covering entire spectrum of human experience and hence Aasurik.

6. How to prioritize Anumaana pramaana (various interpertations) is the next test.

Wahabis are those Muslims who eliminate this second Pramana as well (to highest extent) and rely only and solely on "Shabda Pramaana". No interpretations, only to take literal meaning, and one gets what the shabda really means and wishes to say. 

From Deen's perspective, those giving primary importance to Pratyaksha Pramanas are Kafirs 1.0. Later, once these are removed, those relying on Anumaana Pramaana (which is subjective and determined by demographic factors in given "desha") are kafirs 2.0. This is a the crunch situation when expansion-based sociopolity of Deen cannot be continued. What remains thereafter, is utopia of true believers.  

Thus the phenomenon of Wahabism taking center-stage is in fact progression and not regression when we view Deen from Saankhya point of view. Wahabism a logical conclusion to Deen.

Phalashruti - Vast majority of Muslims in Indian subcontinent are like stones lying in Ganga river. For millennia, they have been surrounded by Dharma and Dhaarmiks just like water surrounds these pebbles all the time. Yet when we break these pebbles, we see that the core is still dry. Similarly this sense of Dharma has not percolated in Indian Muslims. They have remained "dry" in spite of being in water.

One look at the typical Sufi argument:

This argument is typically put forth by those who are either genuine travelers of Tasawwuf OR are Islamists hiding under Sufi garb. 

Here's an interesting ayat, often quoted by Sufis which goes somewhat near to Indic concept of PramaanaQur'an 17:36 

"And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the core of the heart - about all those [one] will be questioned."

The Ibn Katheer commentary mentions that the order of pramanas here is significant - hearing, sight, and core of the heart. Therefore the sufi will proceed accordingly. However, "popular theologians" for the masses always emphasize on "faith over reason". In Islam, this is by far the predominant view, since it is a cult engineered for social control and mobilization.

So even among most Sufis who take a view of pramanas that is somewhat like Indic philosophy, their orientation is such that it ultimately reinforces doctrinal affiliation and communal identification over other human dynamics. We see this a lot with many Indic people who pursue their spiritual effort within the context of a particular school or maTha. They ultimately come around to affirming their maTha. But because of the long and variegated traditions that are woven to make up Indic traditions, a stable context is available in which these statements can be evaluated neutrally - i.e. separate from group-identifications. But Islam lacks that.

Ibn Katheer in fact corroborates what I said above. Relying on what one hears (shabda from Qur'an) is more important than one's pratyaksha anubhava in "core of your heart". Popular theologians, too basically say the same thing  - To rely on Shabda (Qur'an). 

This again underlines the natural progression of Islamic society towards Wahabism.